By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO
We all as parents share a common, yet strikingly dominant and emotional, sentiment. It is one of our most true imperatives. Through the centuries of civilization, every parent’s goal was a singular commitment to ensure their children had better opportunities for their future than they had. When this happened, what resulted was not just a better life, but a better society.
In 1931, Albert Jay Nock, “The Theory of Education in the United States,” in his lectures to University of Virginia students, stated, “This sentiment, I say, served as a quickening spirit, not an enlightening spirit. Its ministrations moved us to the construction, by no means deliberate but quite at haphazard, of an educational theory which may be decomposed into three basic ideas or principles. The first idea was that of equality; the second, that of democracy; and the third idea was that the one great assurance of good public order and honest government lay in a literate citizenry.”
Nock continued, “I need not remind you of Mr. Jefferson’s passionate faith in this third idea, and his insistence upon it in season and out of season. It was in his day a speculative idea, which commanded quite wide consent among thoughtful persons, but which the subsequent test of practice has rather tended to explode. These three ideas are the fundamental ones in our theory of education today, precisely as they were in Mr. Jefferson’s time. They remain unmodified, and even, as I said, unexamined; they are taken as axiomatic, and all the mechanism of our system, the whole of our pedagogical practice from the primary school to the university, is built upon them.”
What happened to Thomas Jefferson’s American theory of education that produced in the 19th and early 20th centuries some of our greatest minds?
Nock saw in 1931 that socialism happened.
In the new decades of the 20th Century, socialism became the government manipulated arbitrary division and redistribution of the nation’s wealth and industry among the American people through tax doctrine. This tax doctrine (income and property) transformed our population’s behavioral fabric by slow marination. It did not offer option, opt-out nor constraint. Over time, this further instilled ignorance and misinformation regarding our constitutional republic. It produced an overwhelming popular misunderstanding resulting in self-interested government largess, especially in government education.
The examination of the first principle, equality, in our government educational system metamorphized from the founder of the University of Virginia’s espousal of performance basis to an artificial mechanism where every student gets a trophy.
What of the second principle, democracy? Our education system is intended to be democratic. The definition of democracy was transformed.
As with the current corruption of the philosophically sound doctrine of equality, Nock saw the transformation of the definition of democracy as “something even stranger and more interesting, a perversion upon a perversion.”
Today, the public policy of regulating and influencing behavior is critical for governments. Instead of the bottom-up goal of our constitutional republic starting with individual rights through a local government process leading to better freedoms, government has invented top-down restraints on every facet of the public’s lives. Governments employ several tools such as legislation, sanctions, regulations, taxes, and subsidies to change and modify public behavior.
Government policy should mean actual resource allocation presented by projects and programs designed to respond to actual problems and challenges requiring government action for their solution, instead of the knee jerk reactions to projected and unproven problems and challenges we see our government, local, state, and federal, acting with blind imminence and our captive participation.
The birth of our nation was founded upon the right of individual self-expression in politics. At the core of this 18th Century political theory was that those who vote, rule. The vote was considered the best appliance to actualize this right of individual self-expression. Through voting, democracy becomes the outcome of counting ballots. This democratically determines power and control over the political apparatus. Democracy was intended political status.
However, we live in a constitutional republic. Over time and the confusion of terms, our behavior changed to accepting that fact that everybody voted democratically, hence we live in a democracy.
Moreover, because of this confusion of terms, today’s democracy has shifted from purely political convention to a collective controlling economics. Our current perception of democracy demonstrates how the management and administration of government properties affects public behavior.
It is not the democracy of political outcome. Like the common areas of a condominium and the cost to operate them, this became the purpose of today’s democracy. A bond issue to build a new government school or a candidate for government office to better control ideological intent are regarded as our obligation, instead of our nation’s original focus of lesser government and our obligation to preserve that limited government for our future generations. The democracy of economics is now the goal of the outcome of counting ballots, not the democracy of politics. With a perversion of the Golden Rule, those, who have the gold, rule.
The opposite of republicanism is monarchy, but monarchy is not the opposite of democracy. The opposite of democracy is absolutism, in other words, tyranny. Tyranny can control a republican regime just like any other. Because everybody voted, our constitutional republic is now termed a democracy. We see this as normalcy. The evidence of this confusion is a modern-day social predicate.
Thus, democracy is not a matter of an extension of the ballot. It is not a matter of the individual citizen’s right of self-expression in politics. It is no longer the political philosophy of the eighteenth century regarded nor intended.
Today’s democracy is not political status. It is the economic adjusting of government property by dissolving the distribution of ownership funneled into a collective political class, the elected and the non-elected bureaucracy, using tax and regulatory restraints on the country’s voters. This collective political class is obliged through the fundamentals of the new definition of democracy not to bear the responsibility nor accountability of ownership, only to produce outrage and crises for the purposes of maintaining the power center of government. Socialism avoids individual responsibility and accountability, which are the foundation of liberty, and promotes the increases and controls using top-down government economic policy.
If elected government leaders cannot be responsible and accountable for their actions over and above the election process and the policies created, then they avoid any consequence for results. With time their lack of results is forgotten, leading to a general disorientation and planned confusion.
Has Alaska forgotten the findings of Alaska 2000?
Crises-induce resentment and outrage as well as fear and discontent. Today’s democracy is transformative by intent to include resentment and outrage. Yesterday’s democracy is neither remembered nor practiced. Those who dedicated their lives to figuring out the human quagmire of civilized designs are now forgotten or ignored.
The result at present and as Nock notes in 1931, “As the popular idea of equality postulates that in the realm of the spirit everybody is able to enjoy everything that anybody can enjoy, so the popular idea of democracy postulates that there shall be nothing worth enjoying for anybody to enjoy that everybody may not enjoy; and a contrary view is at once exposed to all the evils of a dogged, unintelligent, invincibly suspicious resentment.”
When looking at our own state constitution, how would the Alaska constitutional delegates have reacted to the founder of American education theory?
Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and past chair of Eaglexit. Part III of this series will be posted shortly.